Dr. Jim Mann
“Out of the depths I call to you, LORD! Lord, listen to my voice; let your ears be attentive to my cry for help.” (Psalm 130:1–2, CSB)
My mom used to say I was “trouble” with a capital T. It doesn’t offend me. Partly because it’s true. But also because trouble is a part of what it means to be human. As Eliphaz reminded Job: “… humans are born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7).”
You can’t take the journey of life we’re on without running into trouble and suffering. That’s one of the unique things about—what separates us from the rest of God’s creation. Animals can be hurt—but they don’t suffer. The earth can be ravaged, but it doesn’t suffer.
Humans can suffer; it’s part of the image of God, I think. Suffering involves the soul. Jesus himself suffered: At the Garden of Gethsemane he told his disciples: “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’” (Matthew 26:38, NIV84) Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus “suffered death” on the cross for us.
Suffering is pain plus; it goes down to the soul. When we suffer we’re driven to ask existential questions: “Do I matter? What’s the purpose? Where is God? Is this the end?” That’s how Psalm 130 begins: the bottom has fallen out of the psalmist’s life. The first words of the psalm are De Profundis—the Latin name for this Psalm—“from the depths.”
We all find ourselves in a dark pit of suffering from time to time. It’s par for the course. But what sets the Christian apart is that we deal with it. It is dangerous if we don’t. If we fail to acknowledge or deal with suffering, it leads to depression, cynicism, addiction, even suicide.
The psalmist is in the pit and he doesn’t want to stay. So the first thing he does is cry out to God.
Then we watch and wait. “I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning—more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5–6, CSB)
Personally and pastorally, I know some of you are in the depths right now. You’re suffering. I have no band aids—no platitudes to help you. But I can tell you with confidence that if you will call out to the Lord from your place of suffering, he not only will hear your cries, but will respond as his character demands he respond.
You can trust in that like you can trust that the sun will come up tomorrow.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.